During the past ten years, I have accompanied many a young adult on their journey of self discovery, healing wounds from their childhood, managing their mental health issues, identity formation, intimacy fears and desires, and lifestyle choices all as they tried to navigate the world of higher education. I have listened to a lot of suffering. I have heard more than I want about sexual assault, bad parenting, the scourge of alcohol and drug addiction, and childhood trauma. I have also been privileged to witness the resilience of human beings, the beauty of a young person beginning to make sense of their inner life, the fledgling self-confidence born in self-acceptance as one begins to make sense of all the pieces of what makes them uniquely who they are. And if there is one thing I’ve said over and over to my clients it is this: we cannot help our gene pool, we cannot help how our parents treated us, we cannot help what ills another person, community, society or events have visited upon us. What we can help is how we take care of ourselves. It is up to each person as much as they are able to eat in a healthy way, to exercise, to avoid substances, to keep their alcohol consumption to minimum or not at all, to cultivate a spiritual life whatever that means to them, and to surround themselves with good people.
In that vein, I have decided to take my own advice. Over the past ten years, I’ve managed the steadily increasing stresses of my work by eating healthy, swimming, yoga, walking, writing, and cooking, but mostly by swimming. I need now to try something new. I began swimming 35 years ago. That one decision began the domino effect of better choices in my life. I mentioned the fact of the anniversary (March 9th) approaching to my son and he said, “Before I was born.” I responded, “You probably wouldn’t have been born had I not started swimming.” Swimming began what has turned into a lifelong quest of healthy lifestyle. My journey is now taking me into a new chapter. I am leaving the college counseling world and going to Ireland to attend the Ballymaloe Cookery School. I don’t know if I’m crazy or adventurous. My husband says I meet my thrill quotient by staring at the bottom of a pool. Adventure is not typically my thing, so draw your own conclusions. I do know that now is the time to start something new by fine tuning an abiding love of healthy food and cooking. I’d love for you to accompany me on this journey, if you so choose.